Posted by: Michael Dewalt | July 29, 2008

What is Calvin 500?

About two months ago I got an idea to begin interviewing authors and editors of books that are being published so that blog readers (like you who are reading this) can see what titles are coming out and what they are about before they hit the shelves. As I blog for Reformation Heritage Books, I thought it would be good to have articles that everyone would enjoy reading. With this in mind, about a month ago I approached David Hall about doing an interview on the second volume of the Calvin 500 Series, The Legacy of John Calvin. After doing the interview and shooting emails back and forth, David began to think that doing a blog for the Calvin 500 Tour would be a great idea as a way to inform people about the conference. During this time of emailing and going over some ideas for the blog, I had the chance to interview David Hall twice. The first was an interview to get familiar with the Calvin 500 Tour, and also included a few questions about the first volume of the Calvin 500 series, Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes. Below is the information and result of that interview.

Interview on the Calvin 500 Series & The Legacy of John Calvin

Dewalt: What is Calvin 500?
Hall: The Calvin Quincentenary is an international, interdenominational, and interdisciplinary commemoration of the life and work of John Calvin (b. 1509), which left such an indelible impression on the modern world. Climaxing with conferences in multiple locations in 2009, this celebration combines history, spirituality, and culture to recall appropriately the life and work of the Genevan Reformer.

Calvin500 has four purposeful aims: (1) to encourage Reformed institutions, groups, and councils to have their own autonomous celebration of Calvin’s legacy during 2009; (2) to publish a commemorative series of books highlighting Calvin’s work and life; (3) to host a historical tour of the major sites of Calvinistic heritage in France and Switzerland in 2009; and (4) to sponsor two conferences in historic Geneva in July 2009 (leading up to the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth on July 10), one academic and one for expository preaching.

Esteemed leaders, scholars, and ministers will serve as guides to learning about this influential man, his vibrant city, and the cultural, religious, political, and economic impact flowing from a movement. This multi-faceted approach seeks to introduce many people to one of the most important thinkers in history. Participants may find information about or register for the tour online at our website.

Dewalt: What is the P&R series, “Calvin 500”?
Hall: The “Calvin500″ series is a multi-volume set (8 vols) that will highlight various contributions of John Calvin. Ranging from academic to practical, all volumes in this series will seek to commemorate the work of the Reformer. The volumes may be purchased individually or can be placed in church libraries as a commemorative set.

Dewalt: What is your role in the P&R series?
Hall: I serve as the General Editor for the series and edit or co-edit several of the volumes. I have also authored two of the volumes and will co-author a third one in the series.

Dewalt: How many volumes are going to be published in the Calvin 500 series?
Hall: Eight volumes, at present. P&R has shown a strong commitment and high degree of professionalism from the beginning to publish a lasting series to commemorate John Calvin. The eight volumes planned thus far are:
1. The Legacy of John Calvin (which begins by highlighting ways that Calvin impacted the world, followed by a brief biography and tributes). This is a short, non-technical introduction to Calvin.
2. A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes: Essays and Analysis (Co-edited with Peter Lillback); this volume contains essays, each of which focuses on a section from Calvin’s Institutes by 20 top Calvin scholars. This will serve as a natural companion to Calvin studies.
3. Calvinism and Political Ideas. This volume traces the ideas and impact of Calvin and his disciples on political and governmental concepts.
4. The Commemorating Calvin Conference will contain 15-18 expository sermons delivered from Calvin’s pulpit in Geneva July 5-9, 2009, by some of the finest Calvinist preachers today.
5. The Tribute Conference will contain 18-20 research essays by leading Calvinist academics; delivered in the Auditoire (the original site of Calvin’s Academy) in Geneva, July 6-9, 2009.
6. The Capitalistic Ethic and the Spirit of Calvinism (with Matthew Burton) is a study of Calvin’s teachings on business, finance, charity, and economic matters.
7. Calvin and Culture: An Enduring Worldview (co-edited with Marvin Padgett) is a collection of essays by practitioners of various academic disciplines. Each chapter will focus on how Calvinism impacts an area of human life such as law, art, education, economics, history, medicine, etc.
8. The Piety of John Calvin, a reprint of an anthology originally collected by Ford L. Battles, which focuses on the practical albeit oft-ignored spirituality of the Reformer.

*One or two other volumes are under consideration and may be added.

Dewalt: How many volumes of the series are you writing yourself?
Hall: Two and a half. I authored the recently published Legacy of John Calvin and have authored Calvinism and Political Ideas (to be released in about 6 months). I am co-authoring a book on Calvin and business with Matthew Burton, The Capitalistic Ethic and the Spirit of Calvinism.

Dewalt: What volume of the series are you most looking forward to and why?
Hall: The volume of sermons may leave one of the best and most fitting tributes to Calvin. We are blessed with an incredibly gifted group of expositors. Their stirring messages, in the spirit of Calvin’s expository ethos, will reach many in printed form for years to come. Several of the other volumes should also have long usefulness as textbooks in colleges and seminaries, as well as for general audiences.

Dewalt: How is Calvin 500 bringing about the legacy of John Calvin in the 21st century?
Hall: We are seeking to inform a new generation about the positive contributions of Calvin. Many people have heard only or primarily negative assessments of Calvin. Thus, in some respects we will be re-telling parts of the narrative that have been ignored or forgotten by a modernity that has been customarily venomous toward Calvin. We hope to remind readers of the many virtues in Calvin’s varied work.

Dewalt: Your subtitle and focus of the book is to show how John Calvin influenced the modern world. How can we Calvinists work like that of Calvin, in influencing our postmodern culture today?
Hall: To me it is instructive (and humbling) to see how energetically Calvin took his thought into all sectors. His ideas permeated political, social, economical, educational, and governmental sectors for centuries. Calvin proclaimed the glory and sovereignty of God from the St. Pierre pulpit, but his ideas quickly saturated many sectors of life outside of the church. Moreover, the people of postmodernity are not fundamentally different from Calvin’s audience of premodernity: all need to hear sinfulness identified as the cause of so much human ill and hear the timeless wisdom of God which remedies our inabilities. Calvin’s realism and avoidance of utopian visions resonates with many people today who tire of promises, idealism, and gimmicks that do not deliver.


  1. [...] of the week could be the buy of the week as well. Earlier in the week over on The Calvin 500 Blog I interviewed David Hall on the Calvin 500 Series and asked a few questions dealing with the first volume in the [...]

  2. It’s too bad that Calvin (the great reform theologian) had no engineering training; otherwise his viewpoints could have been better expressed. We know from Ephesians 1:4 that God chose us before Genesis 1:3. So the natural question to ask is what was going on in Genesis 1:2. This “brooding” that some translations state looks more like brooding over the results of trade-off studies.
    A trade-off study can be performed in many ways with many variables. To our currently computer literate world one could conceive of creation simulations being run within the mind of God with many variables and many results. Surely free will would be one of the variables in this ensemble of cases examined. Each case would be a possible universe in which the individuals exercised their free will. The final result for each of the trillions upon trillions of cases developed would be a set of individuals who were saved. Does God have to “tweak” the results to get His final solution the way He wants it? Apparently so because the simulation reference manual is filled with directions (eg 1st Timothy 2:1-6) on how to change on a short term basis the constants and coefficients of the simulation being run thereby bringing about an adjustment from God modifying the way the simulation would play out – the so called prayer effect. Of course the selected case might have had multiple corrections or patches applied to it such that we might not be able to imagine all the things in this world brought about by the prayer effect. Having found the case that includes all those He chose, the next step is Genesis 1:3. Where did we exercise our free will? In the simulation studies our free will was clearly in full operation. I’m also exercising my free will right now but none of it is shocking or surprising to God after all He selected this case to be the reality case with all its characteristics and features.
    The decision to make man in His image and likeness was one of the key decisions which drove the ultimate nature of the selected solution. Imperfect beings with free will inevitably use that free will imperfectly. The result is a distribution of these imperfect beings with some heading for heaven but some heading for hell. Exactly how many times God intervened in each person’s life will not be seen till the end, but the unending praise that echoes through eternity will manifest the awesome love, mercy and glory of God as He made adjustments over and over and over in each and every life. At first glance it appears the only way all could be saved would be with a minimization of free will. That would be a case where we all are chimpanzees. At the other limit case without the cross all would be lost. Here we are and if you are calling out to God be assured He has and is responding to you.
    In the reality case (this world and all that is in it) it is obvious we did not have to exist. Our parents never had to meet. The fact that we do exist is evidence that God specifically loves each one of us on a highly personalized basis. The parable of the Sower and the Seed and Ephesians 2:8-10 taken together explains how some get to heaven. Those who end up in hell had to work very consistently against God’s grace and mercy to get there. You’d think they would be serial killers or pedophiles but maybe not! Turns out I have met those men in the Prison Ministry. What if none of the normal social standards applied the way we think they do and the key issue was pride? YIKES – I’m stopping right here to repent.

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